December 20, 2004
2004 Red Sox: What About Next Year?
by Steve Lombardi
It is pretty safe to say that the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox had an overly exciting post-season for their franchise and fans. Anyone who would disagree with that statement would fall into the "a few fries short of a happy meal" category. But, what does that mean in terms of "What about next year?" for Red Sox Nation?
For the fun of it, off the top of my head, I decided to look at some other recent World Champions in baseball who had an extraordinary exhilarating post-season - and what happened for them in the next season. The list follows:
2003 Florida Marlins - The whole Steve Bartman thing. Beating the mighty Yankees in the World Series.
What about the next year? They finished in third place, 13 games out of first place.
2002 Anaheim Angels - Came out of nowhere. Their incredible Game Six win in that World Series.
What about the next year? They finished in third place, 19 games out of first place.
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks - See the bottom of the 9th in Game Seven of this World Series- that about says it all.
What about the next year? They did finish first in the NL West; but, they got waxed in the NLDS - getting swept by St. Louis.
1997 Florida Marlins - Another bottom of the last frame Game Seven win story.
What about the next year? The team was broken up and they finished last - losing 108 games.
1996 New York Yankees - Jeffrey Maier. The Leyritz homer against Wohlers.
What about the next year? They barely made the playoffs (as the wildcard team in 1997) and they were stunned by the Indians in the ALDS.
1993 Toronto Blue Jays - Joe Carter hits the homerun to win the World Series off Wild Thing Mitch Williams.
What about the next year? The Jays were 16 games out of first place when the season was stopped.
1991 Minnesota Twins - One of the most exciting seven game World Series in the history of the game.
What about the next year? The Twins finished in second, 6 games out of first.
1990 Cincinnati Reds - They shocked the world by sweeping the Oakland A's powerhouse in the World Series.
What about the next year? They finished in fifth place, 20 games out of first place.
1988 Los Angeles Dodgers - The thrilling NLCS against the Mets. The Kirk Gibson dramatic homerun in the World Series.
What about the next year? They finished in fourth place, 14 games out of first place.
1987 Minnesota Twins - Another exciting seven game World Series win for the Twins.
What about the next year? They finished in second place, 13 games out of first place.
1986 New York Mets - Perhaps the greatest comeback ever by a team in a World Series contest (in Game Six of the Series).
What about the next year? They finished in second place, 3 games out of first place.
1985 Kansas City Royals - The Don Denkinger call and an exciting seven game World Series win for the Royals.
What about the next year? They finished in fourth place, 16 games out of first place.
1979 Pittsburgh Pirates - They came back to win Games Six and Seven - on the road - to win the World Series.
What about the next year? They finished in third place, 8 games out of first place.
1978 New York Yankees - The great comeback and the Bucky Dent homer.
What about the next year? They finished in fourth place, 13 1/2 games out of first place.
In fact, probably the last team to have an enormously electrifying post-season where they won the World Series and came back to win it again was the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds. Will the 2005 Boston Red Sox be the first team in 30 years since "The Big Red Machine" to come off a World Series winning magnificent and magical post-season to repeat as World Champion? If you consider the fates of the 2003 Marlins and 2002 Angels, the two most recent champs prior to Boston (who both also happened to get into the post-season via the Wild Card - as did the Bosox), the Red Sox might consider themselves just lucky to get back into the big dance. (Because the Marlins and Angels did not make it back.)
Fighting your way into the post-season, riding the emotional roller coaster of big comebacks, and then dealing with all the distractions that follow winning a World Series (especially on the latter when it has been a long time since the last time you won), may just take too much out of a team for them to repeat winning it all?
Other than the 1998-2000 Yankees and the 1992-93 Blue Jays, no other teams have repeated as champions in the last quarter-century. As much fun as 2004 was for Red Sox Nation, 2005 could be a bummer. Then again, for Red Sox Nation, would a "wet blanket on your blazing expectations" type of season be a "bummer" or just a return to normalcy?
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